Tuesday, April 12, 2016

More than 550 consultations on Bangsamoro peace process done by GPH panel alone

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr12): More than 550 consultations on Bangsamoro peace process done by GPH panel alone

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Tuesday said the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel conducted and participated in 553 consultations among the various stakeholders of the Bangsamoro peace process from 2010 up until the completion of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the drafting of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“[This number] covers only the consultations conducted by the peace panel in Mindanao up to early 2015. It does not cover the number of consultations carried out by other officials/units of OPAPP, nor the number of consultations carried out by Congress, through its respective chamber committees, especially the House Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL, not just in Mindanao but all over the Philippines,” OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles stated in a Facebook post.

“The fact is that the draft BBL has broken all congressional records in the number of consultations carried out on a legislative bill,” she added. “The fact is that certain Senators never paid it a bit of attention until the tragedy of Mamasapano gave them a platform to grandstand on the pain of its victims.”

Out of these 553 consultation activities, the peace panel met 10 times with representatives and supporters of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), six times with members and representatives of the Sultanates in Mindanao, 32 times with representatives and groups of indigenous peoples (IPs), and 100 times with leaders and officials of local government units (LGUs).

From all of these engagements and interactions with the different stakeholders, the peace panel took into consideration their positions, insights and suggestions as inputs to the peace negotiations, the signed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2012, and the CAB which served as the basis for the BBL. Parallel to these, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission were also reported to have conducted their own consultations.

GPH peace panel chair Professor Miriam Coronel–Ferrer also stressed that these extensive and meaningful consultations were significant enough to ensure that the draft BBL submitted to Congress was made more inclusive and more substantive as a legislative document.

“Even before the peace negotiations resumed in 2010, it has always been our practice and mandate to include all possible constituency and stakeholders in the table because the product of this peace process will determine, not ours, but their future and the fate of the Bangsamoro,” Ferrer said. “At the same time, we also had consultations and briefings with the members from both chambers of Congress to guarantee that the BBL would be constitutionally firm and transparent.”

In a position paper dated May 18, 2015, which was submitted to the Senate, the GPH peace panel noted that the House Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL held 51 public hearings and consultations while the Senate Committee on Local Government, chaired by Senator Ferdinand Marcos, conducted only 12 public hearings and one briefing.

During the Vice-Presidential Debate held at University of Santo Tomas (UST) last Sunday, Senator Marcos claimed that the government peace panel did not conduct wide-based consultations for the Bangsamoro peace process in Mindanao. “Ang kinausap lang ng gobyerno ay ang MILF. Hindi ang mga kababaihan, LGUs, at MNLF. Dapat lahat ng sektor ay kasama. (The government only spoke with the MILF. Not with the women, LGUs, and MNLF. All sectors should be included),” Marcos claimed.

Deles, however, stressed that the government made sure that the peace process was kept open and transparent to all stakeholders.

“Not many people were very interested in the peace process then, but those who have always been closely monitoring its progress would recall that we always have media sessions after the talks to update the public on the state of the process,” she said.


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